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Children, Adult Children and partners of alcoholics often develop seven ways or attitudes to deal with the drinker. These are;
- Guilt and shame implied by the alcoholic about causing them to drink excessively
- If I caused alcoholism, I must be able to find a remedy
- If I can’t cure it I can control the behaviour and drinking
- Avoiding self-care in deference to the alcoholics needs
- Fearfully not expressing own needs and feelings
- Making poorly considered decisions – unhealthy, irrational
- Belittling self, abilities, accomplishments and potential
In recovery children of alcoholics and co-dependents learn to reverse these attitudes. Quite simply these principles are life attitudes.
The Seven C’s of Another Persons Alcoholism – Detachment
- I didn’t Cause it
- I can’t Cure it
- I can’t Control it
- I can take better Care of myself by
- Communicating my feelings, and
- Making healthy Choices, and
- Celebrating myself.
These simple changes can facilitate ‘detachment’ from the alcoholic who then may take responsibility for their disease.
Seven Alternative Responses
I have often used this simple formula as a decision tree when considering my responses to any situation and not just an alcoholic situation. For example;
- Would my response be driven by a recent or distant shameful action by the alcoholic or myself?
- Is my proposed response a strategy in another attempt to cure the disease of alcoholism?
- Am I trying to control the alcoholic behaviour with this potential response?
- My self-care may suffer with this response. How can I take better care of myself? Or, protect myself? Or, promote my self-esteem?
- This response may hide my feelings from the alcoholic. How can I better communicate my feelings and needs – if I need to?
- What is a better way to make healthy choices? Should I talk to an experienced person (In Al-anon or ACOA or Alateen), a counselor? Should I avoid drinking myself or eating for comfort – or any other avoidance practice?
- My personal assertion; I am a good person. I am unique and capable of detaching from the alcoholic and all my other troubles. I have feelings and needs of my own not governed by the alcoholic.